So, Is AnTuTu Benchmark Infecting Us With Malware?

AnTuTu Benchmark is the go-to for many who want to test out their phone’s capabilities. As of this posting, it has a 4+ Star Rating, with over 925,000 reviewers on Google Play.

Recently I was in need of a Sprint-compatible phone that would work where my temporary (6-month) office would be. Not wanting to break the bank, I settled on the Essential Phone (pleasantly surprised, for sure).

I decided to load up and run the obligatory AnTuTu Benchmark. Irrelevant to this post, but it scored pretty well.

A couple days later, while browsing through my phone memory using Solid Explorer, I noticed something odd…so odd that it made my heart skip a beat. Keep in mind, I have Solid Explorer set to show hidden files, cause why not? Well, I noticed quite a lot of hidden files with random filenames. My mind immediately went to Malware, as this seemed pretty typical of Malware I’ve fought on Windows machines for decades.

At first I didn’t make the connection….but later that day it dawned on me that it could be AnTuTu since that was the only thing I had installed recently. So I fired up another phone and installed AnTuTu and….Ah-HA! The same sort of files appeared on that device.

So now, intrigued, I started my Google searches for “AnTuTu Malware” and “AnTuTu Hidden Files” but got nothing of any significance in the results.

Best I can tell, if anyone else has noticed this, they aren’t asking about it online anywhere. Keep in mind, the average user probably never installs a Third-Party File Manager; much less has it displaying Hidden Files. The typical user probably would never notice these files.

I’ve reached out to the developer for explanation and will report back. I will say, these files remain in Internal Memory even after clearing data and uninstalling AnTuTu.

See video below for the pudding…proof and all.

My Experience Cutting the Cord, and the Service that Won in the End

Spoiler/tl;dr – Philo TV is an awesome service!

To clarify, this post is more focused on streaming Live TV, not just on demand…

Let me start by saying I DESPISE Cable TV. Paying a ridiculous fee for an obnoxious number of channels that will never be watched just seems ludicrous. When I decided to cut the cord, Sling TV had just recently come into being. I liked the idea of around 25 channels, most of which I would actually watch, only costing about $20.

This was also about the time that The Walking Dead was reaching the end of whatever season they were on at this time. This was a show that my wife and I watched religiously on Sunday night.

So, my first foray into streaming Live TV channels had begun…

For the most part, things went well. But then Sunday night came around and time to watch our show. I can’t begin to express how frustrating the buffering was. It was more annoying than I could deal with and I decided to change the channel, with the plan to watch it on demand the next day.

A couple more weeks went by, with each Sunday being the same ol’ story. Eventually, PlayStation’s Vue TV Service went live in my area. Sure it was a bit pricier, but it offered more channels that I would enjoy and offered better services with their Cloud DVR. I switched and was happy for quite a while. There was the occasional buffering, but nowhere near as consistent as I experienced with Sling. A few months later, they actually added one of our Local TV Stations to their service which was a huge win! But after some time, and I’m guessing more subscribers, the buffering started to get more and more common.

At this point, there were several other contenders in the Live TV Streaming game. First I gave DirecTV Now a spin. They had horrible apps for FireTV. Seven times out of ten, when I picked a channel from the guide, it would just get stuck on the loading screen. Then I tried Hulu’s TV service but was not impressed with the lineup and absolutely hated their user interface.

Now, I had kept my PlayStation Vue service all this time, as I was generally happy with it and really liked the DVR function. Unfortunately, they increased their prices so I was exploring other, cheaper options for comparison.

One day on Facebook, I saw a random add for Philo TV. Apparently they got their start when a couple of Seniors at Harvard University where playing around with Aluminum Foil. At that time, it went by the name Tivli. If you want to read more, here’s a like to the Wikipedia Page. It’s actually a really interesting read. Flash forward to 2018 and they are being backed by the likes of HBO and Mark Cuban, just to name a few.

So, given that there was an offer for a free trial, I thought, why not? At the time, there was an Android app available, but no FireTV app. I installed it on my Android phone as was immediately impressed by the ease of setup. You just input your phone number and they send you a code to log in. Equally impressive was their channel lineup and their user interface. I liked the guide screen view and the fact that you could “restart” the TV show that was currently on air.

I sort of hacked it onto a FireTV by installing Chrome Browser and using that to watch Philo on the big screen; not ideal by any means, but usable. In spite of that clunky setup, I found myself using it more and more and PlayStation view less and less. Oh, did I mention it was less than half the cost of Vue with pretty much all the same channels I actually cared about?

After a couple months using the FireTV/Chrome setup to watch Philo, I decided to give the new Roku boxes a try. That’s a story for another post, but let’s just say I’ve been impressed. The biggest selling point was that there actually was a Roku app for Philo. Now, I can say that we are happily streaming away Philo TV on the big screen with very minimal buffering/hiccups.

Philo might not be a feature-rich as PlayStation’s Vue service, but at such a lower cost with similar lineup, I’m not complaining one bit. See below for a breakdown of cost and lineup for each of the services discussed in this post.

What you will find with the below outline is that PS Vue and DirecTV are more comparable to each other, and to big Cable TV providers. These two are far more expensive. While Philo TV and Sling TV are cheaper options, both somewhat comparable to each other. But as you see, you get more for your buck with Philo TV.

Please excuse any typos or bad grammar…..I am, after all, typing this while buzzed
-James
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Philo TV
*Streaming on up to 3 Devices at Once
$16/mo Package Includes 40 channels (as of this posting)
$20/mo Package gets you all the above plus:
—————————————————————————————-
*Stream on up to 1, 3, or 4 Devices at Once, depending on Package
$20/mo “Orange” Package – 32 channels (as of this posting)
$25/mo “Blue” Package – 47 channels
$40/mo “Orange + Blue” Package – 53 channels
—————————————————————————————-
*Streaming on up to 5 Devices at Once
*Certain Restrictions based on Location (see here)
$39.99/mo “Access” Package Includes 49 channels (as of this posting)
$44.99/mo “Core” Package Includes 68 channels
$54.99/mo “Elite” Package Includes 89 channels
$74.99/mo ‘Ultra” Packages add two more channels; HBO and Showtime
—————————————————————————————-
*Stream on up to 2 Devices at Once
$35/mo “Live a Little” Package – 72 channels (as of this posting)
$50/mo “Just Right” Package – 100 channels
$60/mo “Go Big” Package – 128 channels
$70/mo “Gotta Have It” Package – 140 channels

Deadpool Facer Watch Face for Android Wear

It’s no secret I’m a huge Deadpool fan. The second movie is probably one of my favorite movies in the past decade.

Anywhooo….

If you have an Android Wear Smartwatch and haven’t heard of Facer, go check it out on the Play Store HERE

Facer provides a really neat web-based tool to build your own watch faces.  It can be found at https://www.facer.io/creator

Well, a few minutes later…..I present my simple, analog, Deadpool-themed watch face!

Get it for yourself here: https://www.facer.io/watchface/Fqy7Df3FED

Ubuntu Touch on Nexus 7…

Last week I posted about the newly announced Ubuntu Touch edition designed for phones and tablets. I promised an update with my first impressions. Unfortunately there isn’t a whole lot to say just yet. Only a handful of the apps are actually functional (gallery, phone, camera, browser, media player, and notepad) and even fewer of those actual function properly on the Nexus 7.

What I CAN say, though, is that Ubuntu Touch has A LOT of potential. It certainly is a beautiful OS and the layout of the interface and the way you interact with it is quite intuitive. It makes use of all four edges of the screen, allowing you to swiped between running apps, access app-specific settings, system settings, and a quick-list of favorite apps (think the Unity Launcher, on your Ubuntu Desktop). The install image includes some sample content, including People, Pictures, Messages, etc, so you can see what using each of those apps looks and feels like.

All-in-all I would like to spend some time with a further functioning build before I decide if I love it or not, but the current build has certainly managed to pique my interest.